MASONTOWN — Danny Montgomery was outside watching a fly fishing demonstration at the annual State Adopt-A-Highway (AHA) Volunteer Appreciation Picnic when his wife, Donna, insisted he come inside.
“I told him he had to come back in the building because they were going to give out awards,” Donna Montgomery recalled.
What Danny didn’t know is that she had nominated him for the program’s Volunteer of the Year award — and he had won.
“Knocked my socks off. I didn’t have any idea,” Danny Montgomery said. “Cause I said if I’d had any idea, I would have had farm work to do.”
And he wasn’t the only Preston County winner.
The Midway Getters 4-H Club, which the Montgomerys have worked with for about 30 years, was named the Most Active Group of the Year, had the Most Litter Collected in One Year and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for most litter collected.
Danny Montgomery has participated in more than 60 cleanups.
“We do it for the kids,” he said. “To teach them that you don’t go down the road and throw your gum wrapper or your Walmart bag full of trash out the window.”
He also leads the group in planting and maintaining a flower bed in Masontown each year and delivering 1,000 tree seedlings to students and staff at West Preston School.
That’s in addition to the thousands of pounds of recycling the club collects annually. This year the club “only” recycled 70,000 plastic bags, Donna Montgomery said.
The club also collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and newspapers. The Masontown VFW donates its aluminum cans to the club, which recycles them.
Some of the plastic bags are taken south to Pearisburg, Va., where the Montgomerys’ son, veterinarian Danny Montgomery, recycles them. The Virginia town makes things from the bags, such as benches.
“We are trashy people,” she joked, noting the club always wins something at the annual picnic.
“Danny has actually been doing this longer than I’ve been alive,” Midway Getters Club President Brianna Poling said.
Poling said you never know what you will find while picking up trash along the highway. “We’ve picked up some clothes. We’ve had dead animals, tires and beds that people just throw out. We had deer hides,” she recalled.
She picks up trash and recycles so that animals aren’t injured or lose habitat. The club picks up along the roads three times each year, once each season except winter.
The 4-H club has about 16 members, but Donna Montgomery said their families are all very involved with club activities. “We are also very much a livestock club,” she noted, and most of the members do an agriculture project.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Program, in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP) hosted the volunteer appreciation picnic at Stonewall Resort last month.
Statewide, there are more than 4,500 active Adopt-A-Highway members. Also at the volunteer picnic, 25 Grandfather Awards were given to AAH members with 20 or more years of service.
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